Jan 5, 2013 4:04 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
PORTLAND - The Montana women's basketball team will conclude its first Big Sky Conference road trip of the season Saturday with a game at Portland State. The Lady Griz and Vikings will tip off at 3 p.m. at PSU's Stott Center.
Montana shot 32.1 percent and lost at Eastern Washington 58-56, snapping the Lady Griz' three-game winning streak. The teams were tied at the half, 24-24, before the Eagles, who won their fifth straight, opened the second half on an 11-3 run. Montana, which never held a second-half lead, twice tied it in the final 90 seconds, but Laura Hughes' offensive rebound and free throws with 1.8 seconds left were the difference.
Portland State lost its Big Sky home opener over Montana State 81-74. The Vikings trailed for most of the game and were down by 11, 62-51, with just over seven minutes remaining. PSU battled back and had possession with 20 seconds remaining, down three, but couldn't score. The Bobcats went 7 for 8 from the line in the final 30 seconds.
Montana's loss Thursday dropped the Lady Griz (8-4, 2-1 BSC) into a tie for third place in the Big Sky with Montana State (8-4, 2-1 BSC). Both teams trail unbeaten Eastern Washington (7-5, 3-0 BSC) and Northern Colorado (5-6, 2-0 BSC).
Portland State's loss to the Bobcats dropped the Vikings (7-5, 1-2 BSC) into a tie for seventh with three other teams.
It's early but there is still a lot on the line. Potential Big Sky Conference champions, which both teams believe themselves to be, don't lose twice at home in three days, and they don't get swept twice on the same road trip.
The Stott Center has caused Montana more grief recently than any other Big Sky road gym. The Lady Griz have not won a regular-season road game at Portland State since 2006-07 and are just 2-6 against the Vikings the last three seasons, regardless of location.
Montana leads the all-time series 38-16 and has gone 16-10 at Portland State overall.
Montana guards Kenzie De Boer, Torry Hill and Kellie Cole, each of whom is capable of scoring 12 points without making it look like they even tried, combined to shoot 3 for 20 in Thursday's loss. Combined they scored 12 points.
Torry Hill had three assists and just one turnover against the Eagles. That makes it 12 times in 12 games this season that Hill has had a 1:1 or better assist-to-turnover ratio. She ranks 43rd nationally in that category, with 54 assists against just 27 turnovers. That's a Brooklynn Lorenzen-type ratio.
Kellie Cole went 2 for 2 from the line Thursday, giving her 21 straight free throws made. The streak ups her season performance to 29 for 32 (.906). She hasn't missed since the second half of Montana's overtime win at UNLV on Nov. 24.
Montana's 14 turnovers Thursday were the most for the Lady Griz since committing 15 against Tennessee State back on Dec. 1. It was also the first time since Nov. 18 that Montana had more turnovers (14) than assists (13) in a game.
Torry Hill struggled to a 1-for-8 shooting performance Thursday night, dropping her season shooting percentage to .278. Her 3-point percentage is at .207 (12 for 58). She hasn't reached double figures in scoring since matching a career high with 19 points against Idaho back on Nov. 18.
After shooting .870 from the line against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State before Christmas, Montana shot a more pedestrian .722 Thursday. That's still pretty solid, but it's easy to look at the team's five missed free throws in 18 attempts in a one-possession game and not wonder what if.
Maggie Rickman had a quietly efficient game Thursday, with 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. She also hit her first career 3-pointer in the second half.